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Cleopatra with the Asp

c. 1628

Oil on canvas | 114.2 x 95.0 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 405338

Here we see the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra moments before the end of her life, as the asp rears its head ready to deliver its poisonous bite. Reni dramatically conveys the foreboding of her passage from life to death. The transition is particularly noticeable in the colour that drains from her extremities, indicating a shift from flesh and blood to cold marble.

Acquired by Frederick, Prince of Wales, by 1749

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